How it all began
As was usual in those years, a mission station had to have a primary school, and so that was started in 1938 and functioned until the last missionary left in 1969. The old mission station deteriorated and as the civil war erupted the population fled. Everything was left abandoned, until my wife Debbie and I arrived at Camundambala in 1996.
In 2005, two years after peace finally came to this troubled land, the elders of the assembly at Camundambala approached our missionary colleague Ruth Hadley and me and told us of the vision they had for the work. It involved rebuilding and recommencing the primary school that had stood on the former mission site since 1938 and which had been destroyed. These dear elders realized that if the work of the Lord was to progress then we had to have a generation who could read the Bible themselves. If the country of Angola was to have its own doctors, nurses and teachers then they, of necessity, had to have a good education and be able to read! It was neither in Ruth’s mind nor ours that we would undertake such a task, but as we reflected on the vision of our African brethren we realised that, not only was the need obvious, but the end product would indeed be a tremendous asset in the work of the Gospel.
After much prayer and discussion the young men began in 2006 to make the first mud bricks with which to build the new school classrooms. The plan was for the local Christians to do what they could and we, the missionaries, would provide what they were unable to afford, for example, cement and roofing sheets. So building commenced using the original stone foundations of the first school, and three very simple small classrooms were built. Ruth Hadley set about the task of enrolling teachers and worked tirelessly in the school until she had to leave the field at the end of 2016 due to ill health and her consequent home call.
This simple mud brick structure worked well until it was apparent that the classrooms were too small and were deteriorating fast with termite damage. On one occasion, towards the end of 2015, having been up to the school again to spray a damaged wall with the insecticide we use for dealing with termites, we suggested to Ruth that we ought to rebuild with a permanent structure. This was because the results of the primary school education system had already filtered through to positively affecting the local church at Camundambala and beyond. Clearly, it was a work that paid spiritual dividends as well as secular and social benefits, and merited the investment of time and resources to this end. Somewhat prophetically, her reply was, ‘great idea - but I’m too tired to take it on.’ During the next year Ruth had to return home and so physically, she never saw the building work started. But her enthusiasm for teaching and the commitment she displayed to the school lives on in the memory of all who worked with her. At the end of 2016 Jonathan Singleton had plans drawn up by an architect and we received the first plans in February 2017. And so the journey began…